Missouri Herbs

Missouri Herbs
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Thursday, October 18, 2012

A little Ginseng bed in the woods

I built a little Ginseng (Panax quinquefolium) bed the other day on the slope of a hill.  I found a dead tree that has long since been partially sunk into the ground and would make a good basis for a terraced bed.  The bed had to be small because I had to carry the dirt in buckets up the hill and I only had a few seeds.

I've been building the base of all my beds with rotting wood after I learned about Huglekulture beds.  The beds that have been built this way are supporting some of the most beautiful plants we grow.  We have actual tall Huglebeds we have built and are still building, but even for the keyhole raised beds, I start with rotting wood now.  It's hard to tell from this picture, but the hill really drops off after the log and it's very solidly sunk down into the ground. 

I plugged the one hole under the log with some rocks and then started laying down rotting wood.   The seeds came moist and 1 year stratified from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.  They need a well drained bed and 75% shade. 

Rooting wood as the base.  My lovely assistant Ripple supervises from the trunk.

I don't know if this is correct or not, but it's how I build other beds, I then gather leaves if around and lightly put them in some of the gaps between the wood and cover the top.  My thinking is as the leaves decompose, they'll make a nice layer of biomass for fertility and moisture retention. 

Some leaves on the wood.

Then came time to cover it all in dirt.  I'm no ginseng expert, but I understand it likes fertile soil.  We had a dump-truck load of dirt delivered for $200 from a local guy digging out his pond and that has lasted me all summer and built many beds.  Half of the pile is still left, it was an awesome deal.  When we tested the soil, it was wonderfully fertile.  So 2 small tractor trailer loads and many buckets hauled up the hill later I was almost done.

I mixed some of the dirt created in hollow of the crumbling log to the bed and added a nice top layer of that as well.  Then I patted the top of the dirt pile pretty hard with my hands to get dirt down in between the logs and watered the whole thing  very well to get the dirt down into to logs a bit more. 

Decomposed log "dirt"
Then little Ripple sniffed the seeds for good luck.  This was a crucial step!  I planted the seeds about 1/2" down. 

After topping with mulch that was delivered for free by the power company (Mwahahahaha!) we were all done.  Now just need to wait 7-10 years!  I made the bed off of the little walking path I take to the bottom gardens, so I'll be able to watch it closely.  Apparently I forgot to take the final picture, but here are some cute Ripple photos.  Her beauty probably distracted me!

Ripple Tesla

"Need this one?"

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